Parents face long drives for medical marijuana

Published 11:28 am Thursday, December 4, 2014

ST. PAUL — Jeremy Pauling is staring down four hours round trip to the nearest site that would sell medical marijuana for treating his daughter’s chronic seizures. Others in greater Minnesota could face an even longer drive, and that needs to change, the Montevideo man said Wednesday.

“Two hours for me to drive for my daughter — I’ll do it,” Pauling said during a meeting of the task force that’s overseeing the rollout of the state’s new medical cannabis program. “I’m concerned about the cancer patient in … the southwestern part of the state that cannot. You forgot a quarter of the state of Minnesota.”

The state announced Monday that it had selected two Twin Cities-area companies to grow and distribute marijuana for the program. Minnesota Medical Solutions, or MinnMed, and LeafLine Labs tentatively plan to open dispensaries in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Eagan, Maple Grove, St. Cloud, Hibbing, Rochester and Moorhead. Those locations put hundreds of miles between some greater Minnesota residents and medication for themselves or their children.

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Pauling and other task force members offered suggestions to better spread the eight distribution sites across Minnesota, from allowing deliveries to letting parents take home a bigger cache of the medicine to simply adding more dispensaries. Nearly all those changes would require revising the law passed just last session.

Pauling also said the state should abandon its idea to place one dispensary in each Congressional district, pointing out that four are located within a 15-mile radius of the Twin Cities. The site nearest to his home is in St. Cloud.